An ongoing programme of investment by Dublin City Council is improving the quality of streets and public spaces of The Liberties. The Council adopted The Liberties Greening Strategy in 2015 setting out a series of projects to renew historic streetscapes and develop new public spaces; to increase tree cover and provide new parks and amenities; and to improve the quality of the environment through measures such as Sustainable Urban Drainage systems (SUDs) and the installation of energy efficient street lighting. You can find out more about some of the projects currently in train below.
Francis Street is one of Dublin’s oldest thoroughfares, and is best known today as Dublin’s Art & Antiques Quarter. The street is lined with small shops and businesses but also has a diverse community living ‘over the shop’ on the street and in the adjoining areas.
A major public realm refurbishment of Francis Street has now transformed the street, introducing widened pavements; new street lighting, the addition of trees, soft landscaping and seats; and measures to better manage and organise car parking and loading for businesses. Developed by Ait Urbanism + Landscape for Dublin City Council, the plans included two threshold spaces to the front of the street’s premier landmarks: The Iveagh Market and St Nicholas de Myra Church. A suite of new planters with small trees and year-around planting completes a new look for an ancient street.
A new park at Bridgefoot Street is the second flagship project of The Liberties Greening Strategy. The park site, previously occupied by housing, has been transformed into an amenity area for the considerable community living close by. A design team led by Dermot Foley Landscape Architects undertook extensive community engagement to create a robust design for the park that blends passive and active play areas, rolling landscape, a community garden and naturalistic planting. An ethos of recycling and reuse premeates the park, with features such as crazy paving and stone seating areas made from recycled pavement!
Meath Street – The Liberties’ famous market street – is proposed for a revamp that will create stronger sense of pedestrian priority on this busy street with widened footpaths and greater space on the street for stalls and market life. Trees, planting and public seating will help to soften the street and create a relaxed and inviting public space. A planning application for a refurbishment of the street is currently being considered. Construction of this project is hoped to commence in later 2024/2025.
In recent years Dublin City Council has progressed a major renewal of Thomas Street and James Street – the main commercial thoroughfare of The Liberties and an essential element of The Dubline – Dublin’s Discovery Trail. Pavements and street surfaces have been renewed, almost 60 new heritage lighting columns installed, and crossings, bus and traffic infrastructure have been improved. Over 90 decorative tree planters and troughs now ‘green’ the route from High Street to the fountain at James Street. In addition, an ongoing programme of shopfront and building improvements has revitalised one of the city’s most historic streetscapes.
Weaver Park is the first new purpose-built park to be developed in The Liberties since St Patrick’s Park in the early 20th century. The park is located on Cork Street, adjoining The Tenters, and its name reflects the weaving industry that once dominated this part of the city. Weaver Park is a flagship project of The Liberties Greening Strategy and its design involved extensive local community engagement and participation. Officially opened in October 2017, the park includes active and passive play areas, planted areas, integrated skateboard-friendly features and a performance space. With the completion of two adjoining housing schemes on Chamber Street in 2023, Weaver Park will form the centre of an informal square surrounded by residential buildings.
The historic marketplace of Newmarket is undergoing dramatic change, rapidly becoming a new destination for visitors to the area. Long appreciated for its regular markets, the arrival of Teeling Whiskey Distillery in 2015 added a new dimension to the square, and coincided with the redevelopment of various vacant sites and former industrial sheds in the area. Dublin City Council, together with Urban Agency architects, developed proposals to radically redesign Newmarket and its adjoining streets, creating a multi-functional pedestrianised space at the heart of the square and improving pavements, street lighting, street planting and other features. The project received planning permission in Summer 2017 and is now awaiting detailed design. Meanwhile a number of privately-owned sites around the public space have begun to redevelop as apartments, offices, retail and leisure uses.
The historic churches of St Audoen’s on High Street are notable landmarks at the entrance to The Liberties. The complex includes St Audoen’s Church of Ireland (the city’s oldest surviving parish church dating from 1190), an OPW-run visitors’ centre, the 19thC Roman Catholic Church – now a focus for the city’s Polish community, and the famous steps and gate through a remaining section of Dublin’s 12th century city wall. The grounds of these churches and the adjoining parks have been substantially remodeled; improving entrances, enhancing circulation and views into the park, adding lush planting and lighting. The park also includes a new sensory children’s play area, a number of retained archaeological features such as paving excavated during works, and a memorial to children who lost their lives in the events of Easter 1916.
A series of public realm improvements were recently undertaken to begin the revival of the commercial area of Dolphin’s Barn. A wider redesign of the crossroads of Dolphin’s Barn and South Circular Road is proposed including widened pavements, the creation of new public spaces, tree planting and greening, improved street furniture, improved crossings and greater pedestrian priority. The project is hoped to commence in 2025. In addition to streetworks, an initiative to improve shopfronts and commercial premises is underway.
The improvements will also extend to Cork Street. A study has been commission to look at ways to enhance public space and ‘green’ what is largely a traffic-dominated street. New additions have already been made, including Weaver Park and the new landscaped area to the front of the former St Luke’s Church (now Thomas Burgh House).